Thursday, September 19, 2013

Film Review: Welcome to the Punch (2013)

Welcome to the Punch (Review)
United Kingdom/2013
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"...it's like if Max Payne were directed by John Woo..."

Obsessive London detective Max Lewinsky (James McAvoy) is injured as he pursues bank robber Jacob Sternwood (Mark Strong) -- his failure to capture causes great distress over the years. When his son appears injured by a gunshot and captured by the police, Sternwood comes out of hiding, and Lewinsky is right on his trail...

Welcome to the Punch is a by-the-books crime thriller. Lewinsky continues to pursue Sternwood hoping to redeem himself, while Sternwood tries to piece together the events prior to his son's arrest. Both Lewinsky and Sternwood are eventually dragged into a conspiracy that goes much, much deeper -- so deep, they'll have to work together to climb out alive. Rivals forced to work together? Like I said, by-the-books and safe. The film's ending is great, albeit abrupt; I really like the openness of the ending, I'm really hoping for a sequel.

Starting a bit slow, Welcome to the Punch is a film that gets better and better as it progresses. The action sequences consist of some chases and some fantastic shootouts -- the shootouts are beautifully captured as particles and debris flies through the screen in slow motion. Mix in a few suspenseful conversations, an explosion here and there, and you have a well-rounded crime thriller. On the point of suspense, one particular scene was masterfully crafted to keep you on the edge, sweat dripping down your face, and breath held. Really, it's like if Max Payne were directed by John Woo, albeit not as dark. However, it doesn't offer much new or innovative to the genre; sequences like this have been done before, and the story, as previously stated, also plays it safe.

James McAvoy and Mark Strong are fantastic as the leads. Both McAvoy and Strong display great collectiveness, and deep emotion -- fantastically crafting their characters as more than cardboard cutouts. The action is brilliantly choreographed, the shootouts, particularly the slow-motion effects, remind me of the Max Payne video games, and that's a good thing. The music is also fantastic as it created a very epic vibe. The film is beautifully shot, but the blue tint is sometimes overwhelming -- call it "Welcome to the Blue". Eran Creevy is great as the director, his story and screenplay could've used some polish and originality.

Overall, Welcome to the Punch is a great crime thriller; the action and the suspense is topnotch, and the superb acting is very effective. We've seen the story before, but it works wonderfully anyway and manages to entertain immensely. I recommend purchasing for fans of the genre, a rental otherwise.

Score: 8/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and blood.

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